Practical matters: what should I consider before coming to the UvA?
Known for its high quality of life, work-life balance and culture of cycling, Amsterdam is a cosmopolitan world city with a small-scale feel. Get to know more about our city, and read more about important considerations for your summer school experience. Scroll through the following information to read about housing, the UvA campus facilities, travel/health insurance, visas, credit transfer, and more. Studying abroad is an invigorating and worthwhile experience: read through this information to ensure you're well prepared before you arrive.
Known for its high quality of life, picturesque canals, work-life balance, and culture of cycling, Amsterdam is a world-scale cosmopolitan city that is manageable and welcoming. Thanks to its long history of inclusion and innovation, the Netherlands is the 'biggest small country in the world', and Amsterdam is its beating heart. We have suggestions for everything from bike rides, to museums, and more, as well as practical matters to consider before you arrive.
We're proud to host our summer programmes at the University of Amsterdam's Roeterseiland Campus. Complete with restaurants, cafes, library and study places, this state-of-the-art campus is surrounded by canals in beautiful Amsterdam East.
Many of our programmes offer housing arrangements for UvA summer school students, either through university-provided accomodation or other partners. Please check the programme pages for more specific information about our housing options, as circumstances vary per course. In general, Amsterdam is a popular summer destination for people from around the world. Due to limited urban space and high demand, affordable housing is extremely challenging to find. If you are traveling on a budget, we recommend that you apply for housing arranged through the university, if available. Housing is first-come-first-served: make your plans early, and indicate on your application (or as soon as possible) if you will be applying for university provided accommodation.
In order to attend one of our summer programmes, you might need to obtain a Schengen or Short Stay Visa (Visum Kort Verblijf). You will not need a (provisional) residence permit since all summer programmes are less than 3 months in length. Students from certain countries do not need an entry visa. To see what applies to your situation, please visit this government website. You can also check the Student Visa Wizard. Ensure that you read all the provided information carefully, as Visa appplications often involve a number of steps, and can take a considerable amount of time to arrange through the Embassy in your home country.
Health and travel insurance
Insurance is required. You are required to have appropriate health insurance for the duration of your stay in the Netherlands. For a diagram that indicates which insurance applies to you, please refer to the "Insurance" section of the Study in Holland website. Please check before you come to the Netherlands whether your insurance will cover the complete period of your stay abroad, and what type of coverage it consists of.
The UvA advises all participants to purchase travel insurance for their flights in addition to the health insurance that they require to come to the Netherlands. In the unlikely event of a programme cancellation, students with travel insurance would be able to recuperate costs of their flights.
Below is a list of trusted insurance providers with affordable rates commonly used by UvA students:
Credit transfer & gaining credit for your course
Many of our summer programmes offer credits, in the form of ECTs (European Credit Transfer). This is a European standard used by all European universities. For students coming from outside of Europe, please get in touch with your home university regarding their expectations and requirements for credit transfer. All programmes at the University of Amsterdam make use of the Dutch Grading Scale. Read more about this scale and how it translates to your home context on the Study in Holland website.
Counting credits towards your degree: Students are responsible for ensuring that their home university will accept the credits, and final credit conversions need to be made by the home university itself. If you have questions about credit transfer, or need more information/documents about the programme for your home university's administration, please email the programme contact listed on the course website.
You can easily get around Amsterdam by foot, bicycle or public transportation. There are also several ways to travel from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to your campus at the University of Amsterdam, or the various housing locations.
Getting to Amsterdam from Schiphol Airport
- Train - Cost: €4-6 (and €7,50 for reusable OV-chipkaart): You can buy an OV-chipkaart from a yellow ticket machine in the entrance hall of Schiphol Airport. Some summer programmes will provide you with a public transport chip card so that you don't have to buy one. The train platforms are located below this hall. Trains to Amsterdam Central Station depart every 10 to 15 minutes.
- Taxi - Cost: €45-60: Taxis are located by the entrance hall, on the left side. The journey will take between 25 and 45 minutes and the fare is calculated by metre.
- Bus - Cost: €3-5: The Amsterdam Airport Express (Bus 197) departs every 15 minutes from bus platform B9 and will take you directly to the Amsterdam city centre. You can pay with your OV-chipkaart (€7,50) or buy a single ticket from the driver.
Public transit in Amsterdam
- Timetables and routes: The public transport system in Amsterdam is run by GVB, which is the municipal public transport operator. Check the GVB website for timetables and routes. Timetables and routes on GVB website.
- Payment: Throughout Amsterdam and the Netherlands, the public transport chip card (OV-chipkaart) is used for travelling on trams, buses, metros or trains. Learn more about the OV-chipkaart. In Amsterdam, buses are now cash-free.
- Forms of public transportation: Amsterdam has an excellent network that includes metros, buses, trams, ferries, and on a national scale, trains.
Cycling in Amsterdam
Join the stream of locals cycling from home to work, appointments, shopping, and to meet up with friends. More than half of all short trips in Amsterdam are made by bike! if you want to take to the bike lanes, here are some handy reminders.
- Remember to bike on the right side of the road.
- Signal with your hand when turning.
- Cross tram tracks at a perpendicular angle so you don’t fall.
- Make sure you have working front and rear lights when cycling at night, otherwise you may receive a fine.
- When people are walking in the bicycle lanes, use your bell to let them know you are coming up behind them.
- At intersections without a yield designation, yield to the cyclist/motorist on the right.
- Don’t ride directly next to or behind trucks and other large vehicles as they will not be able to see you.
- Don't park your bike by signs that say ‘Hier geen fietsen plaatsen’ (Do not park bikes here).
In Copenhagenize’s annual ranking of the world’s most bike-friendly cities, Amsterdam consistently ranks in the top two. There are miles of dedicated bike lanes and the city is currently creating thousands of new parking spots in free, secure, underground bike parking lots. The UvA Summer School even offers a programme in Planning the Cycling City, unravelling the Dutch connection and history to cycling.